How to Dispose of Nail Polish and Remover Properly

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How to Dispose of Nail Polish and Remover Properly

How to Dispose of Nail Polish and Remover Properly

Happy Earth Day! Maybe you are considering switching to water based nail polish in celebration. But what about your old polish and remover? You may be wondering how to dispose of nail polish and remover properly.

I have switched to only using water based nail polishes, to avoid chemicals found in conventional nail polish. Once you start using water based polishes it makes since to no longer use traditional solvent based nail polish. As you continue to use water based formulas your nails return to a healthy moisturized state. However, if you use conventional nail polish and remover occasionally it may dry out your nails and leave behind residue, interfering with water based polishes properly adhering.

But now, what to do with my old conventional nail polishes and remover?

Nail Polish and Remover are Household Hazardous Wastes

When I started looking into how to dispose of conventional solvent based nail polish I found out that it is considered a household hazardous waste by the U.S. EPA. Household hazardous wastes which are handled improperly may “poison, corrode, explode, or ignite easily.”[1. Household Hazardous Waste, EPA Region 9,]

If nail polish and remover are not properly disposed of the harmful chemicals they contain can seep into the ground and water supply or contaminate waste water treatment plants. You should NOT dispose of nail polish or remover by pouring it down the drain or throwing it in the trash. Instead, drop it off at your local household hazardous waste collection program. You can use to locate a center near you. Or call call the National Recycling Hotline at 1-800-CLEANUP. And when you pay a visit to the collection facility you can also drop off  old batteries, light bulbs and paints.


Do Not Pour Out Nail Polish

When researching this question, I came across some suggestions to pour nail polish onto a newspaper and let it dry and then throw it out. This does not sound like a good idea to me. First of all, you may have switched to water based nail polish to avoid harmful fumes from traditional polish. If you pour the polish out, you will be releasing all of the smelly solvents into the air. The people suggesting this method were probably assuming that the only flammable part of nail polish are the solvents, which will evaporate away. This is not the case. The main ingredient in solvent based nail polish, which forms the film on your nails and does not evaporate is nitrocellulose, which is highly  flammable and explosive. So you would be throwing away a newspaper coated in a highly flammable substance, not a good idea. Just stick to disposing of polish and remover at a household hazardous waste collection center.


Collect Polish from Friends and Family

If you only have a small amount of nail polish and remover, consider collecting old polishes from your friends and family members who no longer want them and taking it all at once to a household hazardous waste collection program.


What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

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One Response to “How to Dispose of Nail Polish and Remover Properly”

  1. [...] You have decided to switch from conventional solvent based nail polish to water based nail polish. Yay! But now, what to do with your old nail polish? The easiest option sounds like throwing it in the trash, but that is not the proper way to dispose of nail polish. [...]

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